Glycosylation Is Vital for Industrial Performance of Hyperactive Cellulases


In the terrestrial biosphere, biomass deconstruction is conducted by microbes employing a variety of complementary strategies, many of which remain to be discovered. Moreover, the biofuels industry seeks more efficient (and less costly) cellulase formulations upon which to launch the nascent sustainable bioenergy economy. The glycan decoration of fungal cellulases has been shown to protect these enzymes from protease action and to enhance binding to cellulose. We show here that thermal tolerant bacterial cellulases are glycosylated as well, although the types and extents of decoration differ from their Eukaryotic counterparts. Our major findings are that glycosylation of CelA is uniform across its three linker peptides and composed of mainly galactose disaccharides (which is unique) and that this glycosylation dramatically impacts the hydrolysis of insoluble substrates, proteolytic and thermal stability, and substrate binding and changes the dynamics of the enzyme. This study suggests that the glycosylation of CelA is crucial for its exceptionally high cellulolytic activity on biomass and provides the robustness needed for this enzyme to function in harsh environments including industrial settings.

ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering